The Stability WOD Series: Parts 1 – 7
Three years ago I made a comment to someone about creating the “Stability WOD” series and now and I’ve finally gone and done it.
On my teaching travels the past few years, I’ve found that there are a lot of trainers on the mobility bandwagon who are uncertain of what to do next. How do I integrate the new ranges of motion I’ve gained from X mobility drill into my training so that the brain keeps it?
“If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Attendees of our Certified Functional Strength Coach course regularly mention that something clicks for them when we explain the thought process behind a leg lower being a single leg deadlift on your back or how a lying hip flexion drill funnels inself into a sled march. People begin to see the “why” and the “how” come together.
I don’t believe it’s as easy as mobilizing your hip, then squatting 4 wheels. I don’t believe it’s as simple as rolling and stretching your hamstring then deadlifting heavy. I LOVE both of those exercises, but I like them to be progressed in a manner that motor learning can occur.
So what is a “stability” drill? Is it: Motor learning? Patterning? Movement? Corrective? Lifting heavy with good form? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes.
As you can see below there is a logical progression going from the ground, to standing, to locomotion. There are 100’s of other progressions & regressions you could fit in here but for simplicity’s sake I’ve picked 5 to show you for each movement pattern…
Stability WOD: Part 1 of 7 the Active Straight Leg Raise
1. Supported & Unsupported Leg Lower – This drill demonstrate for us your ability to separate your hips. The ground is giving you a core. We want to try and get the static leg perpendicular to the ground.
2. Inchworms – You have four points of stability here so now you must resist gravity from dropping you into extension. Watching clients inchworm is a great tell on what their ASLR screen may look like and whether they can touch their toes or not. Remember if you can’t toe your toes don’t kettlebell swing or deadlift heavy yet. Read this article to find out why. I also like inchworms as a push up corrective : )
3. Box Supported Single Leg Deadlift – Two points of stability here. This is my favorite regression for someone who can’t keep their hips square during a single leg deadlift.
4. Single Leg Deadlift w/ 1 KB – It’s a leg lower standing up! If you can’t do a leg lower properly on the ground you probably won’t be able to do this version yet.
5. Straight leg walk to skip – Is a dynamic/moving leg lower & single leg deadlift.
Stability WOD: Part 2 of 7 Shoulder Mobility & Pressing
1. Floor Slide – Can you get full shoulder flexion (elbow to ear) while keeping a neutral spine? Do you compensate by using your low back instead of thoracic extension & glenohumeral external rotation? If you can’t get into this position on the ground how can you back squat without using your low back?
2. Wall Slide – In a seated position, you no longer have the help of gravity assisting the sliding of your hands. Gravity is now resistance.
3. Half Kneeling KB Press – The half kneeling position limits the use of the low back & I prefer pressing one arm at a time as it allows the head/neck/clavicle to get out of the way. PS your shoulders ❤️ to rotate so we begin neutral and finish palms facing forward.
4. Standing 1 Arm KB Press – Now standing, there are a lot more moving parts in play, therefore a lot more to stabilize as you press overhead.
5. DB/KB Snatch – is a one arm dynamic floor slide or press! Can’t do it on the ground? Can’t don’t it half kneeling? You probably can’t do it at high speeds yet.
Stability WOD: Part 3 of 7 Rotary Stability
1. Dead Bug w/ a Foam Block – There are lots of versions of the “dead bug”. I like this version because you can worth both an ipsilateral & contra-lateral pattern. A dead bug is a bird dog & crawling on your back.
2. Quadruped Hip Extension on Elbows – If you want an ass, don’t be an ass & use your low back when doing this exercise or bird dogs. People like to substitute glute function with lumbar extension. This isn’t Jane Fonda, it’s life training. Learn to use your glutes.
3. Bird Dogs – Are a great way for clients to conceptualize using the opposite hand & foot before moving to crawling. A bird dog is a bear crawl in place.
4. Bear Crawl – You’re a moving table top. Channel your inner “sneaky bear”. It’s not a race to the finish.
5. Standing Cross Crawl, Marching & Skipping – are a standing bear crawl & dynamic bird dog. Working the body’s slings by moving opposite hand and foot is candy for your brain.
Stability WOD: Part 4 of 7 the Push Up
1. Push Up Plank Hold – Not sexy, but vital. Can’t hold a solid push up position at the top or bottom? You’re probably not going to maintain core control when moving.
2. Hands Elevated Push Up – I use the barbell in a rack more than a bench or a box as it allows for better alignment of the wrist & shoulders and you can adjust the pegs down to progress the exercise. Dust off the Smith machine it’s finally useful for something!
3. Bottoms Up Push Ups – I have clients do 1 or 2 perfect reps between every set of every exercise to accumulate as many perfect push ups as possible during a workout as opposed to doing 3 X 10 shitty grind it out reps. I also program chin ups this way for beginners.
4. Horizontal Pressing w/External Load – Our standard is 3 sets of 10 perfect push-ups then you get to move on to heavy horizontal pressing progressions (AKA bench press variations).
5. Medicine Ball Chest Pass – We start tall kneeling, then move to standing, then to stepping. A chest pass is a dynamic push-up. Medicine ball throwing in jumping for your arms.
Stability WOD: Part 5 of 7 Hurdle Step
1. Lying hip flexion – I would go as far to say as this is my favorite “core” exercise. If you shake while you’re doing it that’s your brain learning & you would probably benefit from doing it more often. Like, a lot more.
2. Push Up Hip Flexion – is the lying hip flexion drill above in a push-up position. The key is to go slow & to drive your big toe into the slider to get the deep front line to kick in.
3. Wall Drills – are the push-up hip flexion drill above w/ dynamic hip separation.
4. Sled Push – a moving wall drill with adjustable external resistance. My favorite conditioning tool.
5. Farmer Carry High Knee Walks – a standing version of the lying hip flexion drill that challenges the frontal & traverse planes. Great for runners, or people who walk… So everyone : )
Stability WOD: Part 6 of 7 Inline Lunge
1. Single Leg Hip lift – We use the tennis ball to get active hip flexion on the opposite side thus locking down the lumbar spine so you can’t use your back as your glute. Oh and toe up so that you can’t use your calf as your glute.
2. Half Kneeling KB Chop/Lift – the half kneeling position is an upright single leg hip lift. The chop & lift adds a reaching component that the brain & nervous system crave.
3. Goblet Split Squat – now we’re turning that half kneeling position and turning it into a resistance exercise.
4. Two KB/DB Walking Lunge – walking lunges are far along in the progression because now you’ve added a decelerative & accelerative component to the exercise.
5. Single Leg Hop – the landing position for a single leg hop is a single leg hip lift standing up. Can’t single leg hip lift with a glute that fires up on the ground? It will probably be difficult to accept the ground well when landing from a hop. Protect your knees by mastering your progressions before getting to this one.
Stability WOD: Part 7 of 7 The Squat
1. 90/90 Breathing – is a perfect squat on your back. By using the hamstrings, adductors and breath we can approximate the rib cage & pelvis putting us in a better position to squat when we’re standing. @posturalrestorationinst @mjmatc
2. Quadruped Hip Rocking – is a staple of the @original_strength workshop. The hip rock is a goblet squat on all 4’s. Push with your palms to drive our hips back. Keep your spine flat and your heels out as if you were squatting with straight feet.
3. Supported/Assisted Squat – looks a lot like hip rocking standing up. I love this rack “walk down” drill but a band or TRX work just fine for assisting the pattern.
4. Double KB Goblet Squat – Loading the pattern like so allows us to put fitness on top of function, as long as you’re following your progressions.
5. Jump Squats – Being in a better position, having the moving parts to nail a squat, and getting STRONG, will allow you to access both the horsepower & breaks to bilaterally jump with good form for height.
Brendon Rearick is the co-founder of Movement As Medicine, a massage therapy clinic located in Woburn, Massachusetts. A proud affiliate of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, Movement as Medicine works to ensure our athletes and clients perform at their best both on the field and in their personal lives.
Brendon was always involved in sports and exercise growing up, a passion which ultimately led him to pursue a career where he can help others reach their fitness and athletic goals. Brendon is a certified personal trainer through the NSCA and a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT). He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Kinesiology and later went on to pursue his massage therapy license at the Cortiva Institute.
Brendon worked 4 years at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning (MBSC) as; a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, internship coordinator, and programming director. He has recently relocated to California where he is working with clients and athletes in Marin County & San Francisco areas. He still maintains his teaching responsibilities for MBSC’s Mobile Mentorships, MBSC Thrive & Certified Functional Stretch Coach.
A big advocate of continuing education, Brendon has attended multiple courses including the Functional Movement Screen, MovNat, Neurokinetic Therapy, Rocktape, Functional Anatomy Palpation, Functional Range Conditioning, Postural Restoration Institute, and the Selective Functional Movement Assessment.
When he’s not at work or attending an educational workshop, Brendon loves to read, write, travel, hang out with his daughter, and enjoy the outdoors.
Brendon can be contacted at Brendon@Movement-As-Medicine.com